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Seeds of the Kingdom

Good Friday

by Sue Sainsbury

“It is finished.”
John 19:30, NIV

One Friday, just over two thousand years ago, Jesus of Nazareth died. He was a healthy young man in his 30s and had committed no crime; indeed, He had absolutely nothing whatsoever to be guilty about. Yet He hung on a Roman cross with his hands and feet nailed to the wood which left his whole body, in tortured shock, struggling to breathe. As He looked down, He would have recognised some of the faces: His mother, his friends, weeping and sorrowing alongside Him. Some of the faces would have been hostile, hate-filled, and others would have been confused. What was He doing hanging on that tree and inspiring such varied emotion from the onlookers? Who was this man?

After they’ve watched Jesus do miracles, seen Him feed and heal people, drive out demons, seen some people fall on their faces before Him while others reject and want to shut Him up, Jesus invites his disciples into a conversation about who He truly is. The question He asks in Mark 8:29 is something I think He’s asking all of us, even today: “But what about you? Who do you say I am?”

This Good Friday, let’s allow Him to ask us that same question. Let’s not too easily skip from the ‘momentary’ loss of Friday to the ‘enduring’ joy of Sunday. Many of us don’t find it easy to grieve. When things are unpleasant or painful, we want to skip over them and just move on to the next thing. But when we don’t grieve, too often we find the deep sorrow of loss, injustice, confusion, disappointment or guilt doesn’t go away. We may ‘move on’ superficially but we carry the pain and consequences forward into our lives, unhealed and festering beneath the surface. So, rather than thinking, ‘It’s Friday but Sunday’s coming’, let’s just linger here for a while.

I wonder if you might like to (re)read the Bible accounts of Jesus’ trial and crucifixion? Perhaps ponder afresh how the disciples might have felt. They’ve journeyed with Jesus, through thick and thin, for years now; they’ve seen it all, they’ve listened to the teaching, they’ve been with Him. [Frankly, what would it look like to hang around with Jesus!?!! Really?!! What would ‘love personified’ look like in the day to day?!] He’s made the big speeches to them and about them… but how do they trust Him now in the confusion? They wanted Him to rescue them form the Romans and… now He’s dead?!! Some of them would be carrying the horror of weight and guilt in knowing they’d betrayed Him, abandoned Him when He needed them most. Life really wouldn’t make sense for them right now.

But Jesus said, from the cross, when he bowed his head and gave up his spirit: “It is finished”. What did He really mean? It makes me think about all the alienation and aloneness and confusion, all the grappling to be good enough and failing constantly, all the pain of feeling life isn’t what we thought it would be, that we’re not who we hoped we would be, and not knowing how to make it better…. I wonder what it looks like for all of that to be finished?

This is going to be a deliberately ‘unfinished’ Seed. Believers around the world who are only too familiar with the reality of living and dying for Jesus know that the journey to get to the resurrection is almost always preceded by crucifixion. I wonder, what might that look like for you and for me? Maybe today is the perfect time to ask Him.

Sue Sainsbury and her husband, John, have just begun a big, new adventure as part of the leadership team at Ellel Grange, where they are committed to living lives as disciples of Jesus and helping others on their journey with Him.

 

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